I like having a podcast running in the background while I work. I work from home, alone in an office, and having a podcast going is like having some folks there in the room with me, discussing whatever. My favorite topics are culture and history, though sometimes I go for science or spirituality. I like something low-key, fairly non-intrusive, which podcasts tend to be in my experience, or at least the ones I listen to are. I might not fully absorb the content, as my focus is divided by work, but that’s OK. It’s just nice to have someone talking in the background.
The term “podcast” came about in the early 2000s, taking its name from the “iPod,” a common way to access digital content back then. All it means is some kind of digital streaming audio content, in episodic format. Episode lengths can range anywhere from about 15 minutes to over two hours. I listen to podcasts over the web on my laptop, or on my smartphone. I tend to be behind on the content; meaning I’m often listening to episodes made years ago, rather than recently produced ones. I’m always way behind on pop culture consumption. I mean, I only just recently watched the 50th anniversary Dr. Who special, and they’ve already made the 60th anniversary one.
In this post I wanted to call out a couple of podcasts I’ve enjoyed recently, both of which cover the history of the mid-twentieth century.
The first one is The Long Seventies Podcast, which covers, well, the 1970s. It uses the term “long seventies” to mean the period from about 1968-1983, which is understood as one cultural era. This is basically the Consciousness Revolution Second Turning as defined in Strauss & Howe generational theory. The hosts, Matt and Alex, are these two guys who I’m guessing are core Gen Xers like me, based on their attitudes and how their own life experiences come up in their discussions.
The podcast episodes are long – about 2 hours each – and cover politics, media and popular culture (so far that I’ve heard). Sometimes they talk about events, sometimes trends, sometimes specific cultural artifacts like movies or music albums. The two hosts are mild-mannered, kind of soft-spoken and a bit rambly. It makes for easy background listening. They are skeptical, vaguely reactionary, and often insightful, with heads full of pop culture trivia. Very Gen X.
I have only listened to episodes from a few years back, so have no idea what they think of recent events, not that they would necessarily discuss current events, since the podcast is about the 1970s. Anyway, if you are interested in that decade and find the style I have described appealing, you should check them out.
The second podcast is titled From Boomers to Millennials. This is an ambitious project by a Millennial named Logan Roberts, covering modern U.S. history. The goal is to have an episode for every year from 1946 (the first Boomer birth year according to the U.S. Census) to the present – that is, to go from the dawn of the Boomer era to some point in the current Millennial era.
The episodes are usually about 45 minutes long, and mostly cover politics and major historical events. But because 45 minutes is not really enough time to go over a whole year, the “episodes” end up getting broken up into multiple parts anyway. Plus there are “supplemental” episodes, often in the form of minibiographies of important people from the time period. At the time of this writing, the podcaster has reached the year 1961.
Though this podcast is slow going, I don’t mind, because Roberts is a great narrator. He is well spoken and very knowledgeable. As a Millennial, he seems to have absorbed a historical narrative that some might consider to be “woke” or “liberal,” but I don’t mind that either. I think he’s on the right side of history, and I hope he gets through the Millennial Saeculum, which should end in the early 2030s. By the time this podcast reaches the 2030s (remember, it’s at 1961), I might well be dead. But history, of course, will be marching on.